Summertime on St Mary’s, the largest of the Scilly Isles, and DI Ben Kitto was looking forward to nothing more than the annual Island Swimathon – until when training, his team arrive at Pulpit Rock to find a body hanging from it – a woman dressed in a bridal gown.
It soon becomes clear that a serial killer is stalking the island, looking for more victims. With all exit routes from the island closed, the killer must be part of the local community – it seems impossible that the killer could be unknown to people. But the attacks keep happening…
The fourth of the Scilly Isles series earns two negative marks. Well, two-and-a-half. First of all, the blurb (on Amazon at least) refers to it as a Locked Island Mystery. What the bloody hell does that mean? Anyway, this has nothing to do with a traditional locked room mystery and the island is big enough that while technically, it’s a closed circle of suspects mystery, it’s a big enough circle that we never meet everybody on the island. Of course, that’s nothing to do with the book itself.
Second black mark is for the fake-out at the end. It’s actually a plus point for the book, because one of the strengths of the series is the recurring characters, and the almost-death of one of them – a very important one – really upset me. I’ve become invested in this series since the first book, Hell Bay – still the best in the series, but this one is strong too – and I’m not prepared to say goodbye to that character yet.
The half negative mark? Well, it has to be said Kitto isn’t much of a detective, as he arrests at least two innocent people, accuses a few more and when he unmasks (literally) the murderer, he’s surprised at who it is. Because this isn’t a clued mystery – it’s more of a whodunit thriller. But it is a very good example of that genre.
There’s a good variety of suspicious characters on the island for the reader to play Guess Who? with, and it’s good to see Kitto’s personal life developing again, in a way that readers of the first book will probably be pleased with. This is a very good standalone thriller with added bonuses for readers who have read the other three books.
Pulpit Rock was published by Simon & Schuster in October 2020 and is available as a hardback or an ebook. Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the review copy.